Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Weekly Tattler

(Mod: My favorite day of the week is Sunday because that is when I get to write about all of the news. All those many exciting stories that have showed up in the Maundry Mailbox recently, yet somehow didn't quite make it to a full post. Which is fine, because what better time to review these things than on the Deity's designated day of rest? Not that we ever rest here at The Tattler. That would take a certain level of peace with the world that we just don't seem to feel anymore. Don't really miss it too much, either. But enough of that. To the news!)

Car Dealers Against Literacy? (click here): The Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association made a $5,000 contribution to Monrovia Reads, the local non-profit dedicated to 10% literacy in the community. A check for that amount was presented to the organization at their fundraiser on Saturday by Peter Hoffman of Sierra Auto Cars.

(Mod: We were initially shocked to read this. Usually the people who get involved in these kinds of charitable efforts pay heavy lip service to stuff like literacy. But upon reflection, this article was about Monrovia. So perhaps a 10% literacy rate does represent a step forward.)

Some Humarock Residents Discuss Seceding From Scituate In Bonfire Dispute (click here): The anger hasn't subsided in Humarock after 4th of July celebrations were cut short due to safety concerns. The neighborhood met Sunday morning to plan their next move in a quarrel with the Town of Scituate.

Nearly 100 people attended a meeting at the South Humarock Civic Association Clubhouse. At the meeting, some residents went so far as to call Scituate town officials "Fascists," and say Humarock needs to break away. The latest aggravation began earlier this month when residents claim the town was heavy-handed in enforcing a ban on beach bonfires.

"That was a full military operation, I mean hummers up and down the beach, state police helicopters, horseback, bomb squad, (and) a command post up the center," said Fred Hayden, who owns a summer home in Humarock.

(Mod: We're talking about seceding here on Grove Street. We just aren't certain about a reason for doing so yet.)

California Demon: A state fast becoming America's version of Greece (click here): Call it the European Disease: Run up spending and debt, raise taxes in the name of balancing the budget, then watch as jobs flee, deficits rise, and credit ratings fall.

Chief Executive magazine has just come out with a survey of 650 corporate CEOs on the business climate in their states. They ranked local conditions on a range of issues, including regulations, tax policies, work force quality, educational resources, quality of living, and infrastructure.

It won't surprise anyone who has followed the annual survey to learn which state finished in the back of the pack, and which finished first. California was dead last in attractiveness to business for the eighth year in a row, while Texas came in first for the eight consecutive time.

California parks department finds $54-million surplus (click here): California's parks system stashed away nearly $54 million even as it was cutting services and threatening to close parks, a revelation that prompted the resignation of the department's director Friday.

The hoarded cash remained untapped while the California Department of Parks and Recreation painted a dire picture of the system's health, soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations in what was thought to be a desperate scramble to keep facilities open.

The state planned to close 70 parks this month to save $22 million, less than half the amount of the department's hidden surplus. Almost all of the parks were kept open because of partnerships with other agencies, private donors and nonprofit groups.

"It disgusts me," said Myra Hilliard, who donated and helped raise money for the Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier. "Is anybody honest about anything anymore? Here we are working so hard to keep the park open and they have all this money they aren't telling us about."

Hilliard said elementary school students held a bake sale to raise $120 after being told the park might close. The park costs $80,000 a year to keep open.

Analysis: State Controller, Department of Finance $2.3 billion apart on special funds (click here): A week after uncovering a hidden-funds scandal at the state parks department, finance officials are now trying to piece together why the balance sheets for similar "special funds" are off by $2.3 billion - money that appeared to be right under their noses amid California's financial meltdown.

An analysis by the San Jose Mercury News of California's little-known 500-plus special funds - like the ones that included $54 million in parks money shielded from the Department of Finance - shows tens of millions of dollars in discrepancies in numerous accounts.

The fund that gives restitution to violent crime victims was off by $29 million. The one that provides children with low-cost health insurance was $30 million out of balance. The fund that rewards people for recycling bottles and cans was $113 million off.

The newspaper's review found at least 17 accounts that appeared to have significantly more reserve cash than what individual departments reported to the finance department, though it's unclear why.

(Mod: Maybe that is why we are being asked to vote for a tax increase in November. They misplaced some of the other money we gave them.)

The Search for Paul Alva: For many of us Chairman Paul Alva, who is usually just about the only person to talk at Green Committee meetings, is something of a mystery. He is, in case you don't know, the guy who wants to make Sierra Madre "just a little bit greener." Unfortunately, he has bought into the Sacramento fallacy that you can do so by building high-density mixed-use SCAG Housing downtown. Constructing condos, and lots of them, somehow being the way to stop global warming. An idea that is, of course, nuts.

So we've launched a "Where's Waldo" style internet search in hopes of finding Paul in his native habitat. Here is one of the document that has turned up so far (click here). If you find any others be sure to send them our way.

Enjoy what is expected to be a beautiful Sunday.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

44 comments:

  1. Isn't asking corporate CEOs about the 'best' regulation and tax policy kind of like asking the fox which lock works best on the henhouse?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is part of what is known as the two party system. The Democrats give our tax money to the poor, the Republicans to the wealthy. If you are somewhere in the middle then you are generally screwed.

      Delete
  2. I've been hearing news reports about that $54 million, but nothing about the why of it.
    What was the thinking behind protecting that money?
    Fire recovery fund, or just what?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First off, these are special funds, not general fund, so they are not funded by general taxes, rather by fees intended for specific use (parks fund gets revenue from park entry fees, recycling fund from crv, etc). But regardless, here are a few potential reasons why there might be extra money in them.
      - people are trying to hide money to prepare for embezzlement ;-)
      - some services have been moved locally, leaving state level services with nothing left to fund.
      - its not uncommon for funding and spending allocations to overlap a fiscal year, in which case a 'balance' exists that in a longer window isnt actually there
      - and probably most importantly of all: sacramento steals from these funds to balance its general fund ($3.1B this year, I believe). This has become so bad that some services have been forced to shut down due to the state taking away the money they needed to stay open (recycling centers is one example). I would not be surprised to learn that one way people are trying to 'protect' these services is to hide the funding from the greedy, thieving legislature. That would be pretty comical if that were the case.
      Oh, and btw, the state has to pay back the money it steals from these funds. Someday anyway... at least until it shuts down the service/fund altogether.. (RDAs anyone?).

      The irony is that even though this is used to balance the general fund, education is going to take almost all the hit of the gov's tax initiative does not pass. So who do you trust more to do something that benefits kids, a legislature and gov that does stuff like this? Or a civil rights attorney for whom education has been a passion all her life?

      Delete
    2. So Sacramento is hiding money from Sacramento? What a fine state government we have!

      Delete
  3. Don't know Mr. Alva, but see no reason on God's green Earth to have a Green Commission. Mind boggling what wastefulness city hall can get up to. It should be the staff member who has been the guide to the committee takes on the duty of keeping up on green matters - Sierra Madre's own UN liaison so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The so-called Green Committee is just the latest in a long series of cons designed to sell DSP style development in Sierra Madre. Alva was recruited by Buchanan for the job.

      Delete
    2. Alva is a municipal government employee - yikes.

      Delete
    3. Let me guess. He's a process guy.

      Delete
  4. Speaker Biographies PAUL ALVA│LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
    Paul Alva is a civil engineer with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. He oversees the County’s solid waste planning efforts, facility oversight, and policy development. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona. He serves on the Board of several solid waste organizations, and resides in the San Gabriel Valley.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wait one second, are you telling us he has a degree in enginerring well that's. Something the person incharge of Sierra Madre's public works, is lacking. What a waste to have to send plans out to get checked because he isnot educated as an engineer

    ReplyDelete
  6. Land sharks...we've got 'em & we've got them bad!!!!!! Land sharks and infested with police patrols are an infestation that we just can't abide by. Keep your torches & pitchforks close, good people. "Dirty dirt" are sneaky & we need to smoke them out to keep Sierra Madre safe. Ooops, my bad. I stand politically incorrect, but am I Right? Ruminator

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are correct Ruminator. Just because the Dirts have been on the quiet side, and were schooled recently in Measure V, doesn't mean they are not implementing long range strategies.
      It's the only way to explain some of their election successes (Mosca, Walsh, Moran). They plan ahead.

      Delete
    2. Obviously you completely forgot about the last election. And with a 2014 ticket led by the visionary Josh Moran and deep thinker Nancy Walsh, I can't see too much going on in that quarter right now. Looks more like the bitter end of an era than anything else.

      Delete
    3. Hope you're right.
      Mosca's second victory is still a surprise to me.

      Delete
    4. There have been a lot of Mosca surprises lately. Quitting the council and leaving the country being a good place to start.

      Delete
  7. Texas more friendly to business than California?

    Perhaps Texas politicians are more amenable to the CEOs':

    extortionate tax relief and subsidy demands for locating there;
    whining that worker safety laws prevent them from being "competitive" (with what? businesses operating in that bastion of worker safety China?);
    demands they dismantle workers' right to organize; and
    expectations that they help brainwash the ignorant and uneducated that "right to work" laws somehow confer actual rights on workers?

    The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating: California's per capita GDP is higher than Texas's despite CEOs' complaints about California's taxes, its stricter work safety laws, its stronger (albeit eroding) worker organization rights, and its wider social safety net.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The unemployment rate in California is 10.7%. In Texas the rate is 7%, well under the national 8.2% average. In California there are lots of rights. Sadly, they cannot be eaten.

      Delete
    2. The unemployment stat you cite should be a positive factor in the CEOs' Dickensian minds because high unemployment (i.e. a larger pool of people seeking work) tends to depress wages. Supply and demand.

      And let's not forget that high unemployment was brought to us by a Texan who presided over the destruction of our economy in his quest to enrich his cronies.

      Delete
    3. Cronies never get enriched in California...

      Delete
    4. Forgive my rather broad brush stroke: Not all all of them are Dickensian -- many are Machiavellian!

      Delete
    5. Hmmmmm...don't ever forget that moran & walsh are just talking heads for dirt boil, who incidentally,is still being investigated by the FBI re:the Titan & El Monte fiasco. So, also dirt boil is still sneaking around where money is involved. i.e.PUSD. Another little secret that we must never forget..."bob matheson" child molester extrodinaire & very much a supporter of mosca's campaign. I don't think there is anything too low that the dirts aren't capable of trying & "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap" runs deeper than may appear in our sleepy little hollow. Stay tuned to city council folks & do read between the lines. Thankfully we have 3 good new council members & to me that seems like a blessing. Villains be damned.

      Delete
  8. Ah, if only there were a more ethical major political party....We've got to look at individuals and to hell with party affiliations.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You don't like it here, move to Texas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of businesses are.

      Delete
    2. Good riddance !!!

      Delete
  10. Geez, 3:40. If you were a sentencing judge, I'd feel compelled to remind you about the 8th Amendment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cruel and unusual punishment?

      Delete
  11. 3:30, I do hope the Democrats are lying about one thing: that federal government spending should be restrained. Then, after President Obama is reelected, I hope he goes on a massive federal spending spree creating jobs here in the U.S.

    Of course, the naysayers won't admit they're wrong about federal government spending even after they watch it reduce unemployment, break the economy out of the doldrums, and stimulate business investment, production, and hiring. You see, the naysayers (political/media/electorate) have been too well trained by the altogether too quiet true masters of the economy, the bondholders whose fear of inflation supercedes all else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An additional trillion dollars or so in new debt year after year is not sustainable. It is only a matter of time before there will be a reckoning.

      Delete
    2. Think of it as an investment that will also yield tax receipts that will help reduce debt.

      Delete
    3. Of course. The good thing about that message is it is so old most people already have it memorized. No public learning curve necessary.

      Delete
  12. 12:54 PM It is becoming obvious that anything that can be applied to either political party can be applied to each political party. However, we need a static work environment for specifically... small businesses to thrive. How many czars does it take to screw in a light bulb before a little light is shined on to general public that the small businesses needed a good stimulus package not Solendra??? A new labor union for workers rights, more tradesmen & craftsmen and less outsource-ing, Less taxes so businesses can survive to hire the unemployed that were replaced by technology. Get kids off their videos & into sports, fair play & reality. Go to the beach, run in the grass, eat dinners together, respect & love one another. Moms should have 2 day weeks so men could work 5 days a week & bring home the bacon & are the head of the household. One nation, not divided, under God, We trust.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heaven help us.

      Delete
    2. I'll take a former grass roots organizer who actually tries to improve the lives of ordinary people and who had the misfortune of inheriting an economic disaster over a former high school bully who gave us companies such Staples, destroying mom and pop card and stationary stores in the process, who enriched himself by shipping jobs overseas and buying companies only to load them with debt and put them in bankruptcy, who despite unimaginable wealth avoids taxes through foreign tax havens, who refuses to release tax returns and other financial information, who is building a mansion with an elevator - for his cars, and whose SEC disclosures contain lies about his role with his company.

      Delete
    3. Of course, it's possible the SEC filings may contain the truth, the subsequent statements the lies.

      Delete
    4. I will be voting Libertarian this time. I can't stand either one of those guys.

      Delete
    5. 5:53, what flavor is your Kool-Aid?

      Delete
    6. 8:37: Name one factual error. (Debating Note: Leading with the ad hominem bespeaks of a mighty light toolbox.)

      Delete
    7. I don't know. Isn't "light toolbox" an ad hominem?

      Delete
    8. Agreed 3:38, and impressed that your retort was so sharp given the hour you posted it. However, it was a joke tucked in a note, not an actual point. Hey, maybe it was even the point. Since this thread devolved into national politics, Romney is second-hand goods, bottom of the barrel for the GOP, he's tried to get in the race before and failed. Now all of a sudden he'll win? He was a desperate choice from party leaders who have temporarily lost their wits because they are so consumed with hatred for a perceived anti-Christian, anti-democracy President.

      Delete
  13. There will never be a way we go backwards 5:18 regarding getting kids off videos/DVD's computers. They are not going away. Amazing and exciting invention.

    I will only hire teachers who know the computer and are capable of understanding the validity and importance of our wonderful world of computers and the internet. This is the future and the world of education is filled with programs which teach children in every curriculum.

    Thank you 5:53. Sounds as if you appreciate our public schools.And the people who focus on the children who are today and tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great comment 5:53.

    ReplyDelete